A Bold Statement
Though far from being a soap staple, transgender story lines have been done on soaps before. Azure C (Carlotta Chang) on The City was revealed as transgendered the day after she lost her virginity to her hunky boyfriend… then she was quickly sent away. There was also Zarf (Jeffrey Carlson) on All My Children, which I hear was a strange, messy story line. Now there is Maya (Karla Mosley) on The Bold and the Beautiful. But comparing Maya’s story to the others is like comparing apples to oranges. Her story is different.
What sets this tale apart is head writer Brad Bell’s approach to the subject matter. Maya’s story isn’t being told for the sake of being edgy or different. It’s a look at a real social issue and it’s being told in soapy fashion. The story has been set up as a classic tale of a man and woman falling in love and having to overcome an obstacle together. Maya has been a character on the show for years and in that time she has been woven into the canvas. She is currently in a front burner story line and romance with legacy character, Rick Forester (Jacob Young). The fact that Bell chose to tell this story with a character in this position shows commitment to the material.
There has been some criticism that perhaps the reactions to Maya’s big secret have been a little too politically correct. While I can’t disagree with that, I think that it needs to be for this particular story. Seeing a majority of characters be somewhat accepting of Maya is a good way to lead by example. If Liam (Scott Clifton) and Carter (Lawrence Saint-Victor) aren’t that bothered by Maya being transgender, why should the audience be? This also highlights the ignorance that others show towards Maya’s situation as cruel.
$Bill Spencer (Don Diamont) has now exposed Maya’s secret in the meanest possible way. He has plastered her picture in his publications with headlines such as “Uncanny Tranny” and “His and His Towels.” He has attacked not only Maya but someone she loves very much in the process. Her private life is now on display to be judged by those who don’t understand and by those who are hateful.
Like the characters on the show, I got to know and love Maya the women before it was revealed that she is transgender. The reveal did nothing to deter my enjoyment of the character but I expect it did change how some perceived her. In a way what the audience feels about Maya has become interactive. We got to go through some of the same emotions that we saw other characters going through as they learned the truth. We got to deal with our own feelings, our own misconceptions and come to our own understandings regarding transgender individuals.
Perhaps the coolest thing that Bell has done with this story line is use it to create a super couple. Though shell-shocked at first, Rick chose to still be with Maya after learning the truth because he loves her. Rick was hurt and angry that Maya didn’t tell him the truth when they first met. But he also hid who he was from her initially because he wanted to be love for himself and not his name. With all the hints of a possible violent reaction, I was glad that Bell chose to go this route with Rick. This was what I as a fan of the couple wanted.
Maya’s sexuality has been treated like any other big soap reveal. If Maya’s big secret was something more common placed in soaps, that she was really Nicole’s mother for example, the story would still unfold very similarly to how it is unfolding now. This is a classic soap story albeit with a modern twist.
The unwanted publicity put a strain on things for Rick and Maya before they had much of a chance to let everything sink in. And, of course, Rick managed to say all the wrong things as he saw a PR nightmare unfold in his Google alerts. Maya left and Rick followed her, leading to a tragic car crash that cut short Rick’s attempt to declare his love. Will they be able to eventually overcome all the drama that lies ahead? I’m rooting for them to do just that.
Photos courtesy of CBS.